Trump Rescinds Obama Policy Protecting Oceans

(CN) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday revoked an Obama-era executive order establishing protections for oceans, coastlines and lakes, and replaced it with a new order that curbs environmental protections while promoting economic growth and border security.

Former President Barack Obama established the National Ocean Policy in 2010 to improve the nation’s “capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification” and set in motion a federal mechanism to ensure the protection, maintenance, and restoration of the health of “ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.”

Trump’s order revokes most of the incorporated policies and removed scores of phrases from the Obama directive, including “biological diversity,” “social justice,” “conservation” and “stewardship.”

It also removed a reference to “how vulnerable our marine environments are” did away with Obama’s call to enhance the United States’ “capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification.”

Instead, Trump’s executive order emphasizes economic development and national security.

“The ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters of the United States are foundational to the economy, security, global competitiveness and well-being of the United States,” the order says. “Ocean industries employ millions of Americans and support a strong national economy. Domestic energy production from federal waters strengthens the nation’s security and reduces reliance on imported energy.”

“Our fisheries resources help feed the nation and present tremendous export opportunities,” the order continues.

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management, the 2010 order established a “bridge between policy and action” when it came to achieving top priorities for the ocean laid out by the Obama administration.

Those priorities included ecosystem-based management, coastal and marine spatial planning, regional ecosystem protection and restoration, water quality sustainability and a focus on the changing conditions in the Arctic.

Trump asks state and federal agencies and tribal groups to promote “the lawful use of the ocean by agencies including the U.S. Armed Forces” and to “facilitate the economic growth of coastal communities and promote ocean industries.”

The order also stresses that federal regulations should not prevent “productive and sustainable use” of oceans, coast lines or Great Lakes waters.

The changes drew an immediate rebuke from environmentalists who are worried Trump’s directive could quickly lead to an evisceration of sound policy.

“Revoking the nation’s first comprehensive policy to conserve and manage our ocean—during National Ocean Month, no less—underscores the short-sighted view the Trump administration takes when tackling some of the most pressing challenges facing our ocean and coastal communities,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy, in a written statement.

“In stark contrast to the ocean leadership and vision laid out during two previous administrations, this one is rolling back federal ocean commitments that will jeopardize the long-term health of the ocean,” she said.

But others welcomed Trump’s action. Randal Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which represents offshore oil and energy developers, said President Obama’s 2010 directive caused “consternation” and “uncertainty” for “the offshore energy industry and other ocean stakeholders.”

The new policy will ensure his organization and its members are “treated equally in the zoning process,” Luthi said.

“The Executive Order reverses the misguided course of the 2010 National Ocean Policy,” he added. “This renewed broad vision will hopefully encourage productive partnerships, recognizing a wide variety of ocean uses, all leading to increased economic, environmental and energy security for America through job creation, economic activity, and energy development.

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